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First students assigned to AU/UGA Medical Partnership

The Georgia Regents University has assigned the first 13 students to the Georgia Regents University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership in Athens.

The students were admitted through the early-decision process, which includes Georgia residents who agree to apply only to AU. These 13, all of whom indicated a preference for the partnership campus in Athens, will be part of an inaugural class of 40 who will begin medical school in the fall. A total of 60 students, 47 of whom were assigned to the Augusta campus, were accepted through the early-decision process.

Interviewed applicants are asked their preference for the Augusta or Athens campus. They can also indicate no preference. Once applicants are accepted, a subcommittee of the Admissions Committee makes campus assignments with an eye toward a heterogeneous student body at both campuses.

"We welcome these students to the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and look forward to our first day of classes next year," said Campus Dean Barbara Schuster. "Like their counterparts in Augusta, they are the future of health care in Georgia."

The additional students will boost the medical school's class size to 230 students. They will attend classes in the newly renovated Interim Medical Partnership Building on the banks of the North Oconee River in Athens.

The Athens campus, slated to grow to 60 students per class, is part of an overall plan to increase the AU School of Medicine's class size from 190 to 300 students by 2020 to help meet Georgia's need for physicians. Georgia ranks ninth in the nation in both population and population growth, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and 40th in the number of physicians per capita, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The statewide plan also includes increasing the medical school class size in Augusta to 240, growth that will require larger facilities at the school's home base. Two clinical campuses for third- and fourth-year students are also growing: the Southwest Georgia Clinical Campus based at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany and the Southeast Georgia Clinical Campus based at St. Joseph's/Candler Health System in Savannah.

The AU School of Medicine Admissions Committee has increased from 18 to 25 members in the past two years to accommodate a larger class size and includes representation from Athens, Albany and Savannah, said Dr. Geoffrey Young, associate dean for admissions. School officials anticipate applications will increase as well; they have already increased from 1,612 for the 180 slots available in fall 2004 to 2,102 for 190 slots in fall 2008